The other day, I find an article post featuring a Cat& Jack children shirt from Target with the phrase Strong Like Mom across the front. Since I go to Target pretty much constantly, it was a no-brainer that I would pick it up for my one-year-old son. Even though I had to buy it in a slightly-too-big size, I instantly put it on him when we got home. Does he know what those terms entail yet? Of course not, but I want to start him young. I want him to learn to be tough like mom and dad. But , not in the way you think.
You can find a million and one boys shirts with phrases like, tough like father, I get my muscles from daddy, and other strong and manly sayings. Do I want my son to be strong? Sure, physical strength is nice, but I genuinely couldnt care less how many pounds he can lift( where reference is old enough) beyond when I will eventually need assist moving or lifting something heavy. And Id call on the help from a son or a daughter for that. It doesnt have to merely be my son. Physical strength in the form of health is important to me. That hes healthy and strong enough to be active to carry him through a long life. Thats the kind of physical strength I hope he strives to have. And thats a learned behaviour by making healthy lifestyle selections, which may or may not result in muscular strength. Something we already try to model to him.
But the true strength I care about? His strength of character. Thats why it was important to me to buy that shirt. Im teaching him now and every day forward that being strong goes far beyond physical. Emotional strength gets you through the tough stuff in life. It teaches you to pick yourself back up when you fail. It gives you gallantry to be brave in times of uncertainty. It gives you the confidence to voice your opinions loud and proud, even when it may not be the popular opinion. Thats what Im teaching him to value in terms like tough and strong. I want him to associate those words with an unbreakable spirit. The tenacity to keep going in the face of adversity. To espouse the unknown for the sake of learning and new opportunities, rather than fear different.
Its important that my son and any subsequent children( son or daughter) should be noted that both mom and dad are models of strength. In some routes the same, some different. Though when I think back to my long, hard labor, I feel fairly darn physically strong, too. It was that physical strength to fight through sheer exhaustion to bringing him into this world. But it was also my emotional strength, telling I can do this, that truly carried me to the finish. And thats what I hope he can learn in life physical strength can take you places, but your mindset is what truly makes all the difference. Its what leads you down the path to success and helps you build your dreamings attainable. I hope itll teach him that even if life is hard, its worth it in the end. That our mental toughness is tied to our successes and our failures and how we can grow and learn from both.
So yes, Im raising my son to be tough and strong. Like mommy AND daddy equally. But, when hes old enough I hope he understands that the manliest human he can be is the one who keeps fighting for the right things in life. Who faces his both problems and doesnt give up. Who has the tough intellect to say, you cant breaking me, even in lifes ugliest and hardest moments. If he can do that, I know Ive raised a genuinely strong kid. And that counts for so much more than muscles ever could.
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